A FOX was rescued by a wildlife charity after it fell into a barge in the River Ouse in Newhaven Harbour.
Five volunteer rescuers from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) spent more than 90 minutes trying to catch the slippery customer on Thursday July 19.
Two wildlife ambulances with rescuers from Uckfield, Polegate, Hailsham and Seaford, attended on site.
A ladder was used to get down into the barge and at first rescuers were puzzled about where the fox was hidden, but it was eventually found between two large 20 metre long metal girders.
Rescuers tried to strap poles together push the fox out, but these broke, so two sets of drainage rods were sent for and used to push the fox out to waiting rescuers, who managed to catch the fox, which at first was thought to be injured.
Rescuers then had to get the fox out of the barge up the ladder before loading him into the back of one of WRAS’s waiting ambulances.
Back at WRAS’s Casualty Care Centre at Whitesmith, the fox was checked over and found not to be injured except for a small graze to the mouth where the fox had tried to bite the catch net.
It was given the all clear for release and was due to be let out late at night back at the port.
WRAS found and lead rescuer Trevor Weeks MBE said: “This was one of the most problematic rescues we have had for a while now.
“It was not an easy rescue, with the barge gently moving from side to side, and having to be careful of the metal girders ensuring we didn’t trip over or injure ourselves, and the fox so far inside between the girders, we were not sure if we would be able to get to the fox.
“We also got rather wet as there was water inside the barge too.
“After breaking a couple of poles, we drove across to the industrial estate and purchased a couple of packs of drainage rods and these proved to be much better and easier to use.
“Eventually the fox came out the end, tried to jump up the side of the barge and then leg it across the vessel where rescuer Tony was waiting with a net and managed to secure it.
“We secured the fox and then had the difficult job of getting out of the barge, but we were able to push him up the ladder and out with rescuers either end.”